By Ross Ashcraft BA, LMT, NCTMB
Well, your neck hurts. And it never seems to get fixed. You take pain pills and it just comes back. You rub your neck and the ache doesn’t change. You tried ergonomic pillows and you only got a little relief. You may have even tried massage but it only worked temporarily. You are frustrated and wish someone would just MAKE it stop.
The problem is the issue may not be in your neck. Problems in your jaw can many times present as pain in your neck.
Simple test: Place your hands on both sides of your face. Press deeply into those muscles just in front and a little below your ears. These are your jaw muscles—masseter to be specific. On most people one of these muscles will be thicker or more developed. This is typically caused by the simple idea that most of us chew on one side of our mouth more than the other. This imbalance though can be the start of many aches and pains in our head and neck.
1. Spread your fingers out along the top of these muscles. You’ll have your index fingers right next to your ears and your pinkies half way to your nose right under your cheek bones.
2. Press in to your tolerance and drag your fingers down until you reach your jaw line. Do this 6x
3. Press deeply into the thickest part of this muscle and hold to your tolerance. Then move the jaw by opening and closing your mouth fully. Don’t do this around other people they will think you need medical assistanceJ!
4. Finish by stretching this muscle. Take your hand and slowly move the jaw in all the different directions possible.
1. This treatment is most effective when performed right before bed.
2. If you have chronic pains in your head start this treatment slowly and progress to deeper pressure over several days.
3. This treatment has brought those with TMJ tremendous relief IF you progress slowly and keep doing the treatment over several days.